Abstract: Of Heart-Felt Charity and Billion-Dollar Enterprise: Charitable Non-Profit Enterprises and the State: The Case of CARE, Inc.

Heike Wieters


With this case study, deeper insights into reasons and driving forces for the extraordinary growth of private agencies into important players in international humanitarian relief are sought. While of course taking into account broad trends in international history as well as cooperation and competition with other organizations—both private and governmental—the paper also concentrates on the mindsets of private experts as well as the inner organizational imperatives and certain path dependencies leading to accelerated organizational growth and thus to an increasingly strong stand in the international sector of overseas relief. The paper will scrutinize three entangled aspects—entrepreneurial ambition aimed at expanding the enterprise, the installation of strategic partnerships, and a strong focus on competition and innovation—that fostered the development and growth of the New York-based nonprofit agency CARE, Inc., into one of the most significant international humanitarian NGOs in the world. It looks at NGO growth from a perspective that adopts the assumption that "nonprofits are really not that different from all other organizations"—meaning that the structure and impact of these players can be analyzed using tools from general organizational theory and business history.